2018 News

A Second Act: Erin Yu-Lee Returns to Ohio State with a New Script

December 18, 2018
By Kristen Weimar

On the afternoon of the first snowfall of 2018, we gathered at La Chatelaine to meet with Erin Yu-Lee, a Young Professional Member of Women & Philanthropy. While enjoying bowls of warm soup, Erin shared about her time as an undergraduate student studying theater at Ohio State, her experience seeking acting roles in Los Angeles, joining Women & Philanthropy upon her return to Columbus and now studying at Ohio State once again — this time in pursuit of a Master’s degree in Business Administration.

Originally from the Dayton area, Erin chose Ohio State for her undergraduate education and, after exploring other career paths, found herself drawn towards the theater program. Looking back, she acknowledges that her theater professors really made the program special for her. One professor in particular saw potential in Erin and encouraged her to follow her dreams of acting. It was this professor’s mentorship that later influenced her decision to move to Los Angeles. Now, she credits that experience in L.A. for leading her toward the path she is currently pursuing at Ohio State.

When we asked Erin how her graduate experience at Ohio State differs from her undergraduate experience, she said, “It kind of feels like a very different phase of my life. A lot has changed, yet at the same time nothing has changed.” She shared an example from an experience she’d had just a few weeks back. One day on campus, Erin ran into a professor she’d seen many times as an undergraduate student coming to and from the RPAC, Ohio State’s recreational fitness center, for his daily workout. It struck Erin that all these years later he’s doing the very same things today, while her own life couldn’t feel more different. Since her graduation in 2013, Erin has gotten married, moved to Los Angeles and performed in films and popular TV shows, such as Grey’s Anatomy. Now, five years later, she’s back for her MBA at Ohio State where campus and the surrounding area may look different, but the captivating energy and love she has for the city remains the same.

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For Taylor Germain, Philanthropy is a Family Affair

November 20, 2018
By Carol A. Schwiebert

Taylor Germain lives in Upper Arlington with her husband John, their nearly two-year-old son, Henry, and their collie, Phin. They are all very excited for their family to grow by one more this January, with baby #2 on the way.

On a crisp, sunny morning in early November, Taylor Germain met up with us at Stauf’s Coffee Roasters in German Village, a favorite spot she picked because it was the first neighborhood she lived in after moving to Columbus four years ago. When Taylor arrived to the coffee shop, it was evident that the neighborhood still holds a bit of magic for her - and it wasn’t just the golden light streaming through the windows, or the amber leaves scattered along the brick streets. Taylor’s eyes lit up as she shared sweet stories of visiting Stauf’s after Henry was first born, taking many neighborhood walks with her husband as new parents. All aesthetics aside, German Village is most special to Taylor for the memories it holds.

Taylor grew up in Bethesda, MD - right outside of Washington, DC. And though she loves it there, Ohio has captured her heart several times since she first arrived as an undergrad at Miami University. After a short time back in Maryland after college, the Buckeye State called Taylor back again - this time to The Ohio State University, where she earned her masters degree in Special Education, studying Applied Behavior Analysis. After graduate school, Taylor worked at Nationwide Children’s Autism Center in Westerville. She’s seen how using the right methods and care can make all the difference in the world for kids. For Taylor, working in Special Education feels a lot like service, and many would agree that it’s a true vocation - a calling - to serve children in this way.

For as long as she can remember, Taylor has always loved kids. From volunteer work in high school, to her chosen career in Special Education, her role in Women & Philanthropy and in her very own family: children are at the heart of Taylor’s day-to-day life. “I always baby-sat, and in high school I had an internship working with children with special needs,” she reflected. Educating children and watching them grow - it’s just a lot of fun.” Digging deeper, she explains, “...they’re never given enough credit, though, especially kids with special needs. I got into this line of work to give them a voice and give them credit and accountability.” Taylor plans to spend a few years at home with her young children, focusing on their learning, before returning to her work in this meaningful mission.

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Pharmacist, Philanthropist: Kelsey Schmuhl is Changing Lives in Central Ohio

November 7, 2018
By Carol A. Schwiebert

Kelsey Kresser Schmuhl ‘12, ‘17 knew she’d be a Buckeye since the first time she set foot on campus. “Once I visited Ohio State, I fell in love with all of the opportunities in the city of Columbus. Living here has opened my eyes to diversity and different ways of thinking.” Today, she lives in Hilliard, OH with her husband, Dan. The two met in their first year at Ohio State, and have remained passionate fans of the university that introduced them and helped build their life together.

“Our ideal weekend would include breakfast somewhere like this,” she shared, alluding to the Original Pancake House, where we sat drizzling syrup on fall-flavored pancakes and waffles.

“Then going to a tailgate, watching the Buckeyes game, hanging out with our friends and coming home to our cats,” she described her perfectly ordinary dream weekend. But don’t be fooled: even though Kelsey might blend in to the stadium on gameday, she’s accomplished enough in her 28 years to stand out from the crowd.

The two-time graduate of The Ohio State University first earned her bachelor's degree in Pharmaceutical Sciences in 2012, and then graduated in 2017 as a Doctor of Pharmacy. In the short year-and-a-half since completing her studies, Kelsey has been honored with the Alumni Association’s William Oxley Thompson Award for early career achievement for her work combating the opioid epidemic. She’s a Pharm.D., naloxone expert and educator working hard to make a difference and save lives.

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Maura Holowchak ‘08 Plants Seeds for the Future Through Women & Philanthropy

November 2, 2018
By Carol A. Schwiebert

Maura Holowchak’s passions have called her across the country and even drawn her around the world. At 18, the Upper Arlington native moved to sunny Malibu to attend Pepperdine University, where she majored in Mathematics. Maura worked in Minneapolis as a young professional, and later traveled to Vancouver, Hong Kong and New York City to work and learn throughout her MBA program while studying at Ohio State.

The university has always been a part of Maura’s life, growing up in Columbus, and close to her grandfather, William Halverson, who served as an Associate Dean at Ohio State for twenty years. “I chose to attend Ohio State for business school for a broader education. It was affordable, and had all the resources of a big school.” Maura made the simple decision to become a Buckeye almost out of convenience, and she’s glad she did, because it “...brought me to all these different cities, all over the world.”

Today, Maura is living out her passions right here in her hometown. She and her husband live in Upper Arlington, and when they returned to Columbus for good Maura was looking for ways to plant roots, meet new people and get involved in her community after living away for several years. It was then that she found Women & Philanthropy.

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An Anchor of Hope for Social Change: Meet Molly Peirano ‘12

September 17, 2018
By Carol A. Schwiebert

“My favorite thing about this part of town is all the art on the buildings,” Molly Peirano ‘12 shared in between sips of her latte at Bottoms Up Coffee, a women-founded coffee shop and coworking space on West Broad Street in Franklinton. On a rainy Friday in August, the neighborhood art was really just an added bonus for our location. A true young philanthropist, Molly selected this space for her interview to support the business’s social enterprise aimed at reducing high infant mortality rates and distributing diapers to families in need.

“Recently, I’ve been more intentional about what I do with my money and I’m paying attention to how women move through the world. Money often provides power and opportunities,” Molly declared. Molly joined Women & Philanthropy this past spring, after attending the event at the STEAM Factory. She saw something she had never seen before: a group of women who contribute their own money and decide what to do with it in order to make a difference as a collective group. She knew she had to be a part of this unique group of change agents.

Growing up, Molly’s parents role modeled philanthropy and giving back. Through their example, she learned the importance of giving on a continual basis, reflecting on where you give and why - two drivers that matter more to her than the sum total of the dollar amount given. Molly elaborated, adding examples to support this giving philosophy. “[Giving] is paycheck to paycheck for me. If I have extra, I try to give it to a good cause.” Molly truly believes that even a $5 donation can make a difference. She’s given gifts of $18.73 to her sorority: its founding year, or $131: the street number of the sorority house she lived in on campus. Her monthly contribution to Women & Philanthropy has allowed her to be even more deliberate about her giving, and to plan ahead for supporting worthwhile causes.

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Hope Grows for Survivor of Youth Cancer

September 11, 2018
By Carol A. Schwiebert

On Tuesday, September 11, Women for Ohio State gathered at Waterman Labs to learn how hope is growing for cancer survivors under the leadership of Dr. Colleen Spees. We learned from Dr. Spees about the direct connections between dietary behaviors and cancer outcomes, and the work the Garden of Hope is doing for cancer survivors to promote nutritious habits by giving them access to freshly grown fruits and vegetables that are rich in cancer-fighting properties. Between the crisp fall weather, fresh apple cider, perfectly decked-out barn and delicious cooking demonstrations, we had the perfect backdrop to explore university and community collaborations that support cancer survivors, as well as the impact the garden has had on participants of the program – children, caregivers and adults alike. Tracy Stuck reflected on the event, sharing that she is so inspired to learn about some of the hidden gems in research taking place at Ohio State, as well as the work our partners are doing on campus and in the community. “As a member of Women & Philanthropy, I get to decide where my contribution is invested,” Tracy shared, “and I leave every program a raving fan of a new topic at Ohio State.”

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Intentional Philanthropy: Meet Tamara Hager ‘01

September 10, 2018
By Carol A. Schwiebert

According to Tamara Hager ‘01, everything happens for a reason.

“I think that the circumstances that happen in your life, whether they are positive or negative, create an opportunity to learn something about yourself or about others,” she shared with us at the Block O Cafe on the 14th floor of the James Cancer Hospital, overlooking Ohio State’s campus on a sunny September day.

Tamara detailed her childhood growing up in Kansas, Virginia and several different places in Ohio. What drew her back to Columbus in 1997 was Ohio State. In fact, Tamara was so sure of her future as a Buckeye that Ohio State was the only college to which she applied. “I chose Ohio State because of my family background,” Tamara recalled. “My grandfather, Emil Malinovsky, was a professor in poultry sciences in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at the University, and my uncles - David and William - and father, Peter, all came to school here.” Following in her family’s footsteps was meant-to-be, and Tamara majored in Human Development and Family Science with a focus on Early Childhood Education with aspirations of one day becoming a teacher. Even though she never found herself in the classroom, her passion for children’s causes have remained a compass for her life’s direction.

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Leaving Her Mark on Ohio State and Beyond: Meet Alex Anthony ‘11

August 24, 2018
By Carol A. Schwiebert

Alex Swain Anthony discovered Women & Philanthropy as any typical millennial might: through a Google search.

When she found herself as a young professional working in Columbus after graduating in 2011 with degrees in Accounting and Health Sciences, the former Undergraduate Trustee and Ohio State Basketball enthusiast turned to the web to see how she might get involved with the university in her next chapter.

“Women, Ohio State, Philanthropy,” she typed, not knowing what it might yield.

Fast forward three years, and Alex now serves as a Grants Committee Chair for Women & Philanthropy, helping to drive the organization’s core mission to invest in the causes that are most important to its members.

“I would encourage other women Buckeyes to get involved with Women & Philanthropy because it’s really a unique opportunity to network with other women, to have a voice in where the fundraising dollars are going and to stay connected and learn more about great programming going on at the university,” Alex shared with us on a warm Monday on the Oval, just before the start of autumn semester.

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Women and Philanthropy Awards Celebration

May 22, 2018
By Lindsay Finneran

As a staff member leading the Women & Philanthropy program for nearly two years, I’ve come to expect the feeling of awe and inspiration whenever I’m in a room with the incredible women of Ohio State.

On May 22, Women & Philanthropy celebrated 12 years of friendship, leadership and making a difference by awarding $157,042 to Ohio State scholarship and grant recipients. One hundred and thirty-five guests, including Women & Philanthropy members and their significant others, students and Ohio State grant partners, attended dinner and a special awards celebration at Longaberger Alumni House.

Different degrees, professions, passions and ages. Women from all generations. Our youngest member, Ms. Erin Yu-Lee, is just 26 years old. At the table next to her, our wisest and most dear member, Ms. Floradelle Pfahl, also joined us to celebrate. Together, we represent eight decades of women!

We’re women who are teachers and lifelong learners; women who are leaders and mentors; women who are wives of Buckeyes and parents of Buckeyes and those who simply cherish the friendship of Buckeyes.

We’re women from all walks of life, but we’re united by something special. Something bigger than ourselves.

Chasing after that big thing is something I always find myself doing — wanting to be connected to something I can be truly inspired by.

I am a transplant to Columbus and joined the Advancement team at Ohio State less than two years ago. In that short time, I have been fortunate to join in on some of the amazing traditional Ohio State experiences that make us feel like we’re part of something bigger.

Two football seasons ago, I climbed over rows of seats and people to rush the field at the end of the Ohio State-Michigan game with hundreds of thousands of fans.

I’ve linked arms with complete strangers to sing Carmen Ohio in perfect, beautiful unison.

I’ve even literally been picked up and swept off my feet by Brutus — that is one strong Buckeye!

And just a few weeks ago, along with 11,906 new members of the Buckeye family, I had the honor of graduating at Ohio Stadium with my master’s in public policy. It’s a moment I’ll never forget.

Many of you share that same Buckeye spirit. But there is something else that’s part of the Ohio State experience, that fills us with a sense of purpose, and that’s paying forward.

Members of Women & Philanthropy have helped save lives, make scientific discoveries, explore the unknown, preserve history and shape the future. And this year is no different!

The women of Ohio State have demonstrated what it means to be true agents of change. It’s not enough for them to sit back and wish things were different. They have each made a commitment to play a part in transformational philanthropy here at Ohio State.

After attending each of our grant presentation events or watching them online, each woman had the opportunity to vote on how they’d like to see their dollars make a difference. On behalf of the members of Women & Philanthropy, we were pleased to award the following this year:

  • Ms. Anna Susel, Class of 2022. Major: molecular genetics. $28,000.
  • The Charitable Pharmacy of Central Ohio. Dr. Kristin Casper, College of Pharmacy. $47,500.
  • The All-Sky Automated Survey for Supernovae. Dr. Todd Thompson, Department of Astronomy. $40,157.
  • Building STEM Bridges to Franklinton. Dr. Paul Sutter and The STEAM Factory. $41,385.

For nearly 150 years, the collective impact of women has contributed significantly to Ohio State. Today, this tradition continues. Women & Philanthropy recognizes that it is essential to show how women can make a difference through a direct, participatory role — and that as a member of this group, their gifts go further and do more when we give together.

Thank you to the incredible women of Ohio State. Our Buckeye family can look forward to a future that is stronger and brighter because of your vision, generosity and action!

Supporting the Next Generation of Philanthropic Women Leaders

Each year, a portion of the Women & Philanthropy fund is allocated for a four-year scholarship, totaling up to $28,000 for an incoming female student. Beyond meeting competitive academic criteria, recipients must demonstrate in writing their financial need, what personally motivates them about philanthropy, and how they want to use their degrees from The Ohio State University to impact their communities.

Women & Philanthropy received over 150 applications and the caliber of these students made it a very difficult task to select just one. While the process was challenging, our committee and members were heartened that there are so many bright young women who aspire to contribute to the world in such a positive way.

After several weeks of personally reading and discussing each and every application, our scholarship committee, led by Debra Davis, Chair, and Emily Christian, Vice Chair, were pleased to award support to Miss Anna Susel from Kent, OH.

Anna will be a freshman this fall at Ohio State, hoping to pursue her dreams of studying molecular genetics and becoming a cancer researcher. Throughout high school, she successfully competed as a swimmer and channeled her love of sports and giving back as a volunteer with Special Olympics.


(Pictured L to R: Debra Davis, '81, Emily Christian, '05, '07, Anna Susel, '22, First Lady Brenda Drake, Lindsay Finneran, '18)


From Anna’s application:

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” These are wise words uttered by the 26th president of the United States, and the namesake of her high school, Theodore Roosevelt.

Roosevelt accomplished more than most Americans ever dream to accomplish, but the message rings true, even in her small Ohio hometown. I do not have a lot to give: I am not rich nor do I have much influence in the world, but I have time, the ability, patience, and a desire to give back.

Look for opportunities to meet Anna at an upcoming Women & Philanthropy event this fall. If you’d like to send Anna a note to officially welcome her as a Buckeye, please do so by mail:

Women & Philanthropy
2200 Olentangy River Rd.
Columbus, OH 43210